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How can Toyoda’s “5 Whys” help a church?

John Gilman April 23, 2014

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Sakichi Toyoda

Sakichi Toyoda

“The 5 Whys” is a technique developed by Sakichi Toyoda, the founder of Toyota, used by leaders to get to the root causes of problems. The most classic example involves a car that doesn’t start. You can use more (or less) than 5 whys to get to the root cause, but 5 is often the magic number. Churches can use this tool to figure out the answers to some serious problems.

Example Problem: Car won’t start.

  1. Why? – The battery’s dead.
  2. Why? – The alternator is broken. (second why)
  3. Why? – The alternator’s belt is broken. (third why)
  4. Why? – It is old and should have been replaced 5,000 miles ago (fourth why)
  5. Why? – The owner didn’t follow the recommended service schedule. (the root cause)

Solution: Follow your car’s recommended service schedule.

Common Church Problem 1: A family left your church.

  1. Why? – Their toddler had to go to the doctor to get a goldfish cracker out of his nose.
  2. Why? – He put it up there when his teacher wasn’t looking.
  3. Why? – The teacher was distracted because there were too many kids in the room.
  4. Why? – There aren’t enough volunteers.
  5. Why? – No one likes working with Mrs. Crabapple, the children’s director because she’s mean. (the root cause)

Solution: Either work some niceness into Mrs. Crabapple or find another director.

Common Church Problem 2: People are showing up to the service late.

  1. Why? – The people don’t like the worship.
  2. Why? – They think the worship is boring.
  3. Why? – The songs outlast the Holy Spirit’s presence.
  4. Why? – Mr. Songbird, your worship leader, doesn’t know when to stop a song.
  5. Why? –  There’s no set limit to the number of songs he sings or the amount of time he has to play. (the root cause)

Solution: Work with a team under the guidance of the Spirit to set a time or song limit for worship

Common Church Problem 3: The church can’t make its mortgage payment.

  1. Why? –  Giving is down.
  2. Why? –  People have missed several opportunities to give due to the winter snowpocalypse.
  3. Why? –  People are only used to giving at church.
  4. Why? –  There’s no other way to give.
  5. Why? – Your church hasn’t initiated online giving (the root cause).

Solution: Find an online giving solution that is right for your ministry.

 

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